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The ego, which has traditionally been the enemy of the spiritual aspirant, is not just an individual entity. It also has a collective dimension. The collective ego is your culturally conditioned self-the conglomeration of conscious and unconscious ideas that represent the way you assume life is supposed to be. It is all of the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” you have absorbed from those around you and from the shared history of your culture or ethnic background. It is a set of subtle and not-so-subtle beliefs, ideas, and ways of seeing the world that you deeply subscribe to but may not even be aware of. So much of the individual that you experience yourself to be has been created by the cultural worldspace that you were born into. And that’s not a bad thing, in and of itself. It only becomes a problem when you don’t know how conditioned you are. But the more you are able to shed light on all the different ways in which you are conditioned, the more space will open up for real autonomy-freedom of choice to be the person you want to be. So the culturally created ego is a very significant dimension of the self that needs to be brought to light in your own awareness. And it is not an easy task. It takes an inspired degree of mental focus and a willingness to deconstruct the very foundations of who you think you are-over, and over, and over again. But this process is a critical part of human evolution and spiritual transformation.

The universe is more interested in you than you are in it. Why? Because the universe is trying to evolve, at the level of consciousness, and consciousness can only develop through you. Human beings are the vehicles through which consciousness can take the next step. From this perspective, we are merely pawns in a much larger process. Spiritual awakening is not about you or me—it’s about the evolution of the process itself. Individuals who have been culturally conditioned to see the world through a very small and personal lens find that very hard to appreciate. But as you begin to awaken, you will start to see your own experience from the perspective of evolution itself. And you will begin to understand that when you become deeply interested in the evolution of consciousness and culture, the universe becomes interested in you! A potential partner in the evolutionary process appears, in the form of you.

In Evolutionary Enlightenment, the perennial revelation that there is only One is interpreted as the recognition that we are all part of One Process—a singular cosmic unfolding that began fourteen billion years ago and is still evolving, in this very moment, as you and as me. Every aspect of your experience in every moment, from the gross to the subtle, has been produced and is being produced by a cosmic process. Your physical form has been produced by a process that is the evolution of the exterior of the cosmos. Your psychological and emotional experience has been produced by a process that is the evolution of the interior of the cosmos. When you awaken to this perspective, you literally can no longer see yourself as separate. You can’t see your experience, at any level, as occurring in isolation from everything else that exists. The separate world of “me” that the ego creates is seen for what it is: an illusion. And you realize that even your capacity to experience that illusory world of “me” has been produced by this vast process. You cannot stand outside of it. You are the process.

Why is it that some of us are driven blindly, madly, and passionately to struggle to transcend our own limitations? And to do so not merely for our own sake but for the sake of a higher purpose that we feel yet can barely see? Why is it that in those precious moments when we are most conscious and most awake, we intuit a deeper sense of conscience and care that is not personal? What is that soft vibration that tugs on our hearts and beckons us to courageously leap beyond the small confines of our ego so that we will participate in the life process in a much deeper and more authentic way? In the way I understand it, this is the deepest and most profound manifestation of the evolutionary impulse itself—the very same energy and intelligence that initiated the creative process fourteen billion years ago. That energy and intelligence is now awakening to itself as the spiritual impulse, the mysterious compulsion towards consciousness that serious seekers feel stirring deep within their very own souls. Why is it that some of us who come from a completely secular background find ourselves compelled towards our own spiritual depths, seemingly out of the blue? For many it feels like Consciousness or Spirit is calling the Self to Itself, unprompted by external circumstances. And where does this mystical summons originate? It comes from the same fathomless source that the big bang came from!

Consciousness, in manifestation, has its own energy. And when we feel the unique energy of consciousness powerfully and palpably, we have spiritual experiences. Consciousness is not inert or passive but active. We discover this for ourselves when we recognize that consciousness is always mysteriously seeking for itself, when we become aware of the pulsation of that subtle impulse within us that is spiritual yearning. I’m speaking about the tug of the heart from the deepest part of the Self. That tug is the felt urge towards the mystery of consciousness. It is the drive towards transcendence and spiritual freedom. It’s the mystical pulsation that arises from our own interiors, compelling us to seek our own salvation. The energy of consciousness is the experience of overwhelming fullness of being, lightness of being, a spiritual ecstasy that reaches toward infinity, a fearless transparency that knows no other, and an indestructible throbbing buoyancy that is the very essence of what life is.

The traditional notion of enlightenment was all about winning release—profound existential release from the world and the time process. And that release occurs when you begin focus on the Ground of your own Being, on the nature of consciousness itself, free from any identification with time or any objects. As that happens, you sink deeper and deeper, until you find yourself in an ocean of timelessness. And when you find yourself in this ocean of timelessness, if you have the courage to stay very awake, what happens is that the sense of time ultimately disappears altogether. And that’s the only place and the only way to experience unparalleled and perfect freedom, because it is only in that mysterious place that exists before time began, before the universe was created, that perfection exists. The only thing that is perfect is that empty ground, because nothing has happened there yet—the world has not been created, no mistakes have been made, and no chaos or confusion could possibly arise, because nothing has ever happened. That is why, when you enter into this timeless depth, you will have the experience of rapture and absolute release. It’s a natural result of recognizing the inherently already perfect nature of that empty ground.

Individuals at the leading edge who change in a dramatic way and who are consistently able to manifest what evolutionary development and spiritual enlightenment look like will inevitably affect, in a powerful way, the world they come into contact with. Humbly aspiring to be a good person just won’t be enough to make any real difference. Boldly aspiring to be a great person, as much as we may fall short of that goal, makes room for the evolutionary impulse, which is our own Authentic Self, to surge through the very core of our being. And that is what has the power to change the world.

The foundation of any authentic path to higher development must, in the end, be based upon a deep conviction in one’s own capacity to consciously evolve and a commitment to ensuring that it will occur. Penetrating into the deeper and higher dimensions of our own being is not an impossible feat that only spiritually gifted people can accomplish. It just requires an authentic personally felt compulsion to find something bigger, deeper, higher, and infinitely more real than anything one has ever known. And above all, it requires that one make room for the possibility that one can actually succeed, at the deepest level of one’s being, in becoming that something which one cannot yet grasp but feels choicelessly compelled to reach for.

Practicing meditation for long periods makes it possible, at least temporarily, to know what it means to have no relationship to the passing of time and the movement of mind and memory. And not only that, it provides us with access to our own primordial depths, which inevitably gives rise to a profound and abiding sense of happiness. And that is because, slowly but surely, we awaken to that dimension of ourselves that has never been born and has never entered into the stream of time. Repeatedly experiencing such an enormous shift of perspective makes clear the liberating truth that the source of real contentment has nothing to do with satisfying any particular desire. And it reveals to us, over and over again, that who we are always has been perfectly free from who we have been as a personality.

To become a true seeker requires the heroic willingness to suspend, at a fundamental level, our most cherished beliefs. I’m not speaking about suspending our good judgment, discerning intellect, or common sense, but I am saying that we have to be willing to let go, even if only temporarily, of whatever our deepest convictions are about the nature of life, love, purpose, and the meaning—or meaninglessness—of existence. Perennial enlightenment teachings tell us that we have to make room for the unknown. And to make this more specific, I always say that to seek in earnest means that we have to ceaselessly make the effort to peer beyond what we already know. It is only beyond the boundaries of already knowing that we come upon that miraculous domain of unmanifest creative potential and higher knowledge that always liberates and is ever new. And in an evolving world, this will always be the case, because there will always be infinitely more development at every level, more knowledge, and ever-deepening enlightenment to unfold within us.

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Life is Like Wine

Life is like wine. The closer that you pay attention to it and the more you learn about its subtleties, the deeper and more profound your actual experience of it will be. It will literally “taste” different.

by David

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